Robin: Son of Batman 9

robin son of batman 9

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Robin: Son of Batman 9, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Spencer: Up until yesterday, I didn’t know that Robin: Son of Batman 9 was Patrick Gleason’s final issue as writer and penciller on the title. With the suddenness of the news — and the circumstances surrounding Gleason’s departure still unknown — it’s hard to tell whether this issue was meant to serve as the finale to his run, or was originally planned as the beginning of something more. Either way, it highlights Gleason’s greatest strengths as a creator, but a few of his more notable weaknesses as well. Continue reading

Batman and Robin Annual 3

Alternating Currents: Batman and Robin Annual 3, Michael and Shane

Today, Michael and Shane are discussing Batman and Robin Annual 3, originally released April 1, 2015.

Michael: Convergence has already begun, whose end will signify the sort-of-new direction for DC’s entire line. While Batman and Robin 40 was Patrick Gleason’s final issue on the series, Batman and Robin Annual 3 marks the quiet death of the Batman and Robin series that Gleason and Pete Tomasi re-launched back in 2011. So prepare yourselves for Batman and Robin IN SPAAAAAAACE!

Batman and Robin Annual 03-008 Continue reading

Batman and Robin 40

batman and robin 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 40, originally released March 25th, 2015.

Drew: Bruce Wayne’s back was broken. Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker’s body. Superman had a mullet. Steve Rogers was dead. We often talk derisively of these kinds of easily-reversed changes in superhero comics because they seem gimmicky and cheap — what better way to boost sales than to trumpet the death of Superman? — but I’d actually argue that these stories offer a clever way of exploring what makes these heroes great. Moreover, they remind us not to take what we like about these characters for granted. Fewer characters have been put through quite so many changes recently as Damian Wayne, who has both died and gained superpowers, so while Batman and Robin 40 ends with him back in his non-dead, non-superpowered state, it’s actually kind of refreshing. Continue reading

Robin Rises Alpha 1

robin rises 1Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Robin Rises Alpha 1, originally released December 24, 2014.

Patrick: One of my least favorite criticisms of serialized fiction is that a story “didn’t go anywhere.” We have an expectation that the journey we’re on with the characters is somehow part of an investment that pays off in a meaningful way as events progress. We literally use that term “pay off,” as though the entertainment itself in a cost-benefit proposition. I resent the idea that we can’t enjoy a single issue on its own merits, and instead comfort ourselves with the idea that one volume seeded something that will feel significant later. Robin Rises Alpha 1 closes out the Damian’s Resurrection story by finally giving readers a glimpse of what it means to have a superpowered Wayne behind Robin’s mask. It’s an issue frustratingly short on content, repeating themes, scenes and pages from elsewhere in Batman and Robin, all but guaranteeing that the pay-off here is a retread of the past, rather than boldly striking out into the future of the character. Continue reading

Batman and Robin 37

batman and robin 37Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 37, originally released December 17th, 2014.

…for us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died and was buried. On the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

-The Nicene Creed

Patrick: Growing up in the Catholic church, I always had a little bit of a problem with this part of the Nicene Creed. On the one hand, it’s very clear: Jesus sacrificed everything — including his life — in order to save the whole world from sin. But on the other hand, death didn’t share any of the long-lasting consequences it does for anyone else. Jesus died, but then he returned, three days later. What’s more is that he transcends his human flesh and embraces his fully divine nature by hanging out with God in heaven. While the drama of death and resurrection is enough to stir a body to faith, it betrays a fundamental truth about death. What’s hard about death isn’t that someone dies, it’s that they stay dead. And yet, this narrative — of death and rebirth — is so powerful it’s one of the stops on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Batman and Robin has allowed Bruce Wayne to deal with Damian’s death in grounded, real ways for almost two years, but now that “resurrection” is in play, subtlety goes right out the window. This is Damian, the bat-Christ-figure to beat the band, and he only marches back on the field to fireworks. Continue reading

Batman and Robin 35

batman and robin 35Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Batman and Robin 35, originally released October 15th, 2014.

Spencer: We here at Retcon Punch haven’t been subtle about our love of Batman’s new Hellbat armor. The suit is awesome, and what’s better is that it isn’t just some gimmick meant to push toys; writer Peter Tomasi has created “realistic” (in comic book terms, at least) reasons for the Hellbat’s great power and for why Batman needs to use it in this particular situation. Still, he and penciller Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz understand just how cool the Hellbat is, and much of Batman and Robin 35’s success comes from how the creative team chooses to portray the suit — which, in some cases, means not showing it at all. The issue is visually dazzling, and the artists know which types of imagery to use to best convey the stories both on Apokolips and on Earth. Continue reading

Batman and Robin 34

batman and robin 34

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Mark are discussing Batman and Robin 34, originally released August 20th, 2014.

Patrick: When The Death of the Family was heading into its final issue, Scott Snyder appeared in a ton of interviews claiming that this conclusion was going to have a lasting effect on Batman and the Batfamily. But after that story line wrapped up, Snyder took his own series into Batman’s past, conveniently avoiding working through much of this fallout. Similarly, Grant Morrison killed Damian in Batman Incorporated, but wrapped up his series only a few issues later. The emotional heavy lifting as fallen to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who have dutifully presented the most erratic, emotional and frustrating Batman possible. Everything that Batman is — the selfless knight of justice, the patriarch of the Batfamily, the infallible detective — has been undermined in the wake of these twin tragedies. Understandably, that pushes Batman away from his readers, and his alienation from the world started to reflect the audiences’ alienation from the character. In issue 34, Tomasi and Gleason have Bruce offer a naked apology to his protégés, but they’re also inviting us to trust Batman again. Fuck yes: I’m ready to forgive. Continue reading

Batman and Catwoman 22

batman and catwoman 22

Today, Spencer and Mikyzptlk are discussing Batman and Catwoman 22, originally released July 17th, 2013.

Spencer: I’m probably in the minority among the Retcon Punch writers, but I’m actually a huge fan of Catwoman. When written properly she’s an unpredictable, fun character, but I’m particularly fond of her team-ups with Batman. Catwoman’s been a lot of things to Batman in the past: a villain, a temptation, an ally, and even a love interest, and each version brings out a new aspect of Batman’s personality. When you throw these two characters together you can never be quite sure how they’ll react, and their team-up in Batman and Catwoman 22 doesn’t disappoint; Selina even manages to make Batman smile.

Continue reading

Nova 5

nova 5

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Nova 5, originally released June 27th, 2013.

Beru: Owen, he can’t stay here forever. Most of his friends have gone. It means so much to him.

Owen: I’ll make it up to him next year, I promise.

Beru: Luke’s just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.

Owen: That’s what I’m afraid of.

-Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope

Patrick: It’s not uncommon for our space heroes to have impossible family legacies to live up to. Luke Skywalker would come to define himself by how he chose to respond his father’s every action. Darth Vader isn’t evil — he’s over zealous, he gets in over his head and uses his considerable powers to get what he wants. He’s an old man in need of redemption, and Luke’s the only person to see that — because they’re so much alike. This conversation between Luke’s adopted aunt and uncle holds the perfect amount of mystery and specificity to tease some meaningful depth about the character. In Nova, Sam’s father’s reputation looms similarly large, but no one has anything nearly so interesting to say about him. Continue reading

Nova 4

nova 4

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Nova 4, originally released May 15th, 2013.

Shelby: In the pilot episode of Firefly, we meet the ship’s pilot Wash as he is playing with some toy dinosaurs. As the T-Rex and his veggie-saurus friend survey their new home, the Rex turns on his friend, prompting the delightful line, “Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!” In last month’s look at issues 1-3 of Nova, Patrick and Drew discussed Jeff Loeb’s penchant for cliches; they assumed Young Sam would be betrayed by Rocket and Gamorra, but because it seemed so obvious, they also assumed it was a fake-out. They weren’t totally wrong; Loeb gives us our inevitable betrayal this issue, but it comes from a completely unexpected direction.  Continue reading